Things are pretty crazy on our side as we are getting the build ready for PAX, organizing the booth and ordering all the necessary swag. There are a million things to do in order to be ready, but so far everything is looking good.
While it is hectic, it is also very exciting. From building the booth on the Wednesday/Thursday and seeing all the other companies building theirs from the ground up, to the following frenzied 3 days filled with red bull, fandom and buzz from the show floor, we’re looking forward to all of it :)
This was a busy week for dialog. I recorded eight hours of sessions with six voice actors; next week I’ll record more.
Not every voice actor is equally talented. Some nail the line just from reading it; those actors are gold. I can easily get 180 lines an hour with someone that skilled. Fortunately, those are often the people who can do multiple different voices and accents, so we can use them for multiple encounters without the player thinking, “Enough with that guy, already.”
It goes more slowly with people who are less skilled. I sometimes have to build a performance, first saying, “really ask the question,” then “okay, and you’re 20 feet away from the player when you ask it” then “and you’re really pissed off.”
“Really ask the question” is something I have to say a lot. When you’re running through a bunch of lines on a page, it’s hard to invest your soul in each line. Sometimes they come out sounding like, well, like someone’s reading lines off a page. That’s when I have to say, “Okay, I really want to get a sense who you’re talking to,” or “Really ask the question like you want an answer.”
Some actors can do an accent, or act, but not both at the same time. Fortunately, most of our NPC’s are regular British folk, and so are our actors.
A lot of this work goes unnoticed, if I do it well. When it comes to conversations that you hear in the background, if it sounds human and real, then you won’t notice it. If it sounds wooden or contrived, you’ll notice that it’s bad.
Or, you won’t notice. But you will know somehow. You’ll feel more like you’re in a game and less like you’re in a world. I like to say, “The audience doesn’t know, but they know.” I guess I could unpack that to mean, “The audience doesn’t know what’s right, but they do know when it’s wrong.” If the actors, even in the background, don’t believe in the imaginary circumstances, then the player won’t, either. If we get details wrong, the player may not necessarily be aware of them, but the player will know there are shenanigans going on.
Apropos, Whitney and I had a big argument over dumpsters, or “skips” as they seem to be called in England. David needs places for the players to hide. Dumpsters would be easy to make. And there were dumpsters in England in 1964.
However, in our world, there are no functioning dump trucks. The whole point of a dumpster is that it is emptied by machinery, not by hand. So, from my point of view, there can’t be dumpsters.
We had a big jolly back and forth about that. In the end, we settled on ash carts. They’re a bit like dumpsters on wheels – a small skip that a horse pulls. While the Wellies don’t seem to have any surviving horses, they probably do burn coal, and coal makes ash, and ash has to go somewhere. So ash carts make sense. And it is revelatory (in a small way) if a world without horses is still using horse carts to get rid of coal ash. Clearly some poor bastards are dragging the ash carts around when you’re not looking.
The audience doesn’t know, but they know. They wouldn’t necessarily think, “Dumpsters, wtf?” But they would maybe feel like our world was a little less hallucinatory. On the other hand, handdrawn horse carts in 1964 reveal something about the world. It’s those details that create emotional engagement, I think.
This week we finally answered the burning question that leads to awkward conversations: Where do Bobbies come from?
I’ve also been working on stuff that makes walking around all willy-nilly a little more dangerous. Keep your eyes open and disarm tools at the ready.
This week I've been working on creating new beautiful parks for the Garden District, as well as a water pump. I've also been fixing a lot of trivial generation bugs here and, to add realism, added some falling leaves to the autumn trees. I have also remade the clock!
I’ve been working on the houses from the Garden District, but I won’t show too much of it as I want to keep it a surprise for the next update :)
As you may know, we are going to be at PAX pretty soon so you can try the game. And that means making a somewhat special build of the game. And that means it has to be good. And that means bug fixes! Polish! Integration! There is some new content in the PAX build so I had to concentrate on making this content game-ready. Knowing that one of my levels will be played by hundreds of people pretty soonish for the first time is really cool.
Speaking of which, one thing that I find really hard in level design, is balancing the difficulty. I mean, when I create a level, I know every little thing about it, so it’s always too easy for me (and I do also play it a few dozen times or more). But seeing a new player actually try it for the first time is amazing because they always play it very differently (or at least a little) from how I would.
That’s when I can really fine tune it and balance it better: is it too hard? Are players just walking by what I thought was clear and obvious? Are players lost as to what to do next? Sometimes, players just totally break or bypass the challenges of the level, and that’s always a big surprise, like… “How did I not see this?” *facepalm* But in the end, it’s totally worth it and even essential. It helps me build a better experience for you guys.
This week I’ve been working on a bunch of different things, mainly:
- Improved visuals for the Safe House of Garden District 2
- New drink item “Soft Drink”
- Mysterious Chest now has some “mysterious” reactions when you open it ;)
- More bug fixes!
Other than the I’ve been creating new content for the PAX demo (It’s gonna be awesome by the way). If you’re planning to come at PAX East this year please come see us :D
This week we mainly focused on giving a bit more life in the Village (other than walking around that is). So after finishing a very long and secret cinematic, I hopped on gameplay animations, whoo!
Some are pretty basics and essentials NPCs animations, like nodding when being talked to, giving an object to the player or… taking joy. Yes, believe it or not, the forever-high citizens of Wellington Wells didn’t actually take any Joy outside of the Mood Booths. That should be repaired and they now can indulge drug abuse anywhere they care to!
Some are a bit more specific, like meeting in a dark alley in order to proceed to shady business...
Do you like Huey Lewis and The News?
Bee-ware: these placeholder textures might sting! (these should be bees)
Thank you for tuning in!
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